What is an AoA? What does it mean? What do I get out of it?
I think this can be answered very differently depending on the person's personal perspective. I consider myself still a newbie, if you will, and I am learning and I have so much to learn still. But I have learned something of what an Award of Arms means, but I can only explore that for myself.
Some people don't think it's a big deal. I think that is crazy, regardless of whether or not most everyone receives an AoA at some point, it will never decrease in value to me. I have only been playing about 2 years. I haven't been to very many events, and of those events, I don't think I've volunteered as much as I would like to. Not to say that I haven't volunteered myself as much I could, but I have 3 children and that can be demanding on ones' time and energy, but I strive to do what I can, knowing that in time, I will have more time, more knowledge and more experience. I knew that sooner or later, I would be worth of an AoA.
Having said that though, doesn't mean that I only pitched in my services to get an A0A. On the Contrary, I did what I could, because I wanted to, and it filled me with pleasure to know that I was helping, or providing a service, or making someone else happy! That is reason enough for me, even if I never got an A0A, ever.
My first time being called up in Court was a smaller event. In Montengarde they hold Beltaine in May. Last may, the fighters held a Tavern Styled Brawl and my lord helped to fashion some of the "mugs" they use to pummel each other with. However, when my lord is doing something, I like to pitch in myself, and bring something extra. So to commemorate the Brawl for those in attendance, I took some fabric, some embroidery floss, and I designed a patch: a Frothy Mug with a dagger on the side of it, with AS Year on it. I made just over a dozen. Sadly, we had snow that weekend, so many fighters didn't attend, but those that did, received my patch and I got to give it to them. Later on, during court, I was called up, and gifted with a token from the Baron! I was gobsmacked! And I wear that necklace to each event I go to now (when not wearing my lords chain). And I had enough left over in the evening that those who volunteered to help with the Autocrat also got one! Later one, because of my ability to use a needle and thread, I was asked to help embroider the knotwork onto the Tanist's Tunic for his Investiture! I was given 5 weeks, to do as much as I could. Well, I got myself a standing loop holder to free up both hands and I set myself to work. I am proud to said that even with a self inflicted stabbed thumb injury and a cold (resulting in my losing my voice), I completed the embroider with a few days to spare! And I was able to give it those who would present it to him at his investiture (since I would not be able to attend). Later still, I came into the possession of loads of yarn.. wool yarn too.. not enough for me to make very much out for my own use, but I had started crocheting toques/hats and the Baroness had this project for making stuff and donating it to the local Drop In center for the winter. And so I set to work, with my own wool and yarn and that which was supplied to me and I made 18 hats. I would have liked to make more, but I got sick again, and then it was Halloween... then christmas and my son's birthday.. the last two hats I made were done on the day I handed them in. The Baroness was able to drop them off, just before the big freeze came in. I also made some "for fun" Barbarian Beanies for the sons of the King and Queen of An Tir, with horns and without.. so they have the option of wearing with or without. (and I made some for my kids too, without horns). By my perspective, it's not that much that I actually did.. I mean.. it only takes me an hour and a half to make the hats.. the embroidery was easy enough to keep me occupied.. see.. I'm a fidgety person. I like to keep my hands busy. And I look forward to doing more projects like this. Especially for kids, I think the children in the SCA need to get recognised and helped to feel a part of the community, instead of feeling like they are just being dragged along with Mom and Dad.
When I attended Montengarde's Twelfth Night, I had no expectations. I was with my lord who was doing his thing (heavy fighting), and I visiting with friends and watching the kids. I had no clue whatsoever that during court I would be called up, once again by my Baron and Baroness, and they would grace me with the Order of the Golden Link, for the service of providing all those Toques for the Barony to donate to the Drop In Center. I was in awe to be included in such ranks! But that is not all, 10 or 15 minutes later when the Baronial Court hand ended, and the Prince and Princess were holding court.. and I had just returned from the washroom (as I was changing a pull-up, talk about timing!), they called me into court. My first thought of course was that they were going to thank me for making the Beanies for the King and Queen's sons, until they heeded me to hear the words of their Herald. WHAT? What is going on here? Wait a minute... No. No? What? Really? OMG!! that was my thought process. I was gobsmacked! They were giving me an Award of Arms. I'm still gobsmacked. I've only been playing about 2 years. I don't think I have done a whole lot, but I guess alot of people think I have, and there I was.. getting "Ladied".
It was my own personal Miss America moment. Did I mention the Prince and Princess are residents of my Barony, that made it ALL the more special. And I will never forget that experience. I will forever cherish those moments, oh.. and my lord became a Lord too.. after me.. cause I was higher on the OoP.. hehehe.. Yes.. it was wonderful way to start my new year, and my first event of the year too (which I'll admit, I wasn't in too high of spirits to attend for non-sca reasons). And I was blessed to get to share those moments with many of my local baronial residents!
I would love to hear other's experiences of their first bestow-ment of a charter/token/award.